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Sparks Shine Bright

May 21st 2016

LA Sparks 79  NY Liberty 72

Yesterday both teams came in undefeated. This was a  rematch of the first game that kicked off the WNBA league 20 years ago. In that game, back in 1997 the NY Liberty defeated the LA Sparks. Yesterday they looked to do the same.


Kym Hampton, one of the original players for the Liberty in the inaugural season for the league was also in attendance and looked forward to the game. It was also team mascot Maddie’s birthday so the fans got a chance to celebrate with her as well. The Liberty also welcomed a former teammate in Essence Carson; the fans welcomed her with a warm ovation and a chorus of cheers. Then it was down to business, Tina Charles and the Liberty looked to go 3-0 to begin the season against Candace Parker and the Sparks.


Happy Birthday Maddie Photo: Sherman Gomez PureSportsNY


Parker opened up the scoring with a 3-point shot but then picked up a quick early foul. Both teams looked sharp to open the game as they traded baskets. In the early going the Sparks took a 5-point lead behind the play of Alana Beard. At the end of the first the Sparks led the home team 20-15.


Candace Parker Warming up Photo: Sherman Gomez PureSportsNY

To begin the second the Liberty went on a quick 4-0 spurt to pull to within one. The home crowd, already alive after singing for Maddie’s birthday cheered for their team. The Liberty took the lead after Shoni Schimmel hit a 3 early in the second quarter. Tina Charles gave the Liberty a 6-point lead with 7:08 left in the half the liberty were on an extended run at that point. After a quick run the LA starters returned to reclaim the lead with 3:21 left in the half.


Tina Charles during warmups Photo: Sherman Gomez PureSportsNy

Beard, Parker and Ogwumike led the way for the visiting team. The first half showcased the tenacity of both teams, as they battled on the boards and traded leads throughout. At half time both teams battled to a tie with the score 34-34. Parker had 10 at the half while Carolyn Swords led the way for the Liberty with 8 points.


The 3rd period began like the beginning of the game only the Liberty had the early lead. Tina Charles became very active in the 3rd and Nneka Ogwumike also came alive for the visiting team. The Liberty just seemed to be active on the glass they had 26 rebounds at the half. Both teams did not shoot particularly well from the floor as they shot under 40% for the game. From behind the arc they shot a combined 9-36 however the Sparks made them when they counted.


Nneka Ogwumike warming up before the game Photo: Sherman Gomez PureSportsNY

The Liberty had a 5-point lead heading into the 4th period, the stars for the Sparks led the come back charge. Parker and Ogwumike owned the beginning of the 4th period. Parker who was not selected to participate for Team USA in this year’s summer Olympics showcased her worldly talents. She had a few dazzling one on one plays that delighted those in attendance. In the 4th quarter she had a dizzying crossover and spin move to bring the visiting team closer to tying the game in the closing minutes.


The Liberty seemed to have a 5-point lead forever. After a 3-point shot by Sugar Rodgers the Liberty took their biggest lead of the game (8). However this lead would not last. Nneka Ogwumike also dominated the 4th period she finished the game with 25-points and 15 rebounds. With 21.5 seconds to go Kristi Toliver (Sparks) hit a 3-point shot to tie the game. The Liberty called time out and coach Laimbeer drew up a play for Tina Charles however she could not deliver at the buzzer as her shot from the free throw line fell short to the dismay of the crowd.


In the overtime period it was all about Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike. The stars flexed their muscle to give the Sparks the win. Nneka was a monster on the boards and put pressure on the interior defense of the Liberty. She was in the post often and dominated on both ends. Parker took a little longer to warm up; she seemed to be looking to get her teammates involved before she looked for her offense. She had 34 points in her previous game but tonight she finished with 14-points, 12 rebounds and 3 assists.


Tina Charles finished with 17-points and 16 rebounds for the Liberty who lost their first game of the season. Tanisha Wright added 10 points and Sugar Rodgers added 13 points for the home team. Coach Laimbeer attributed a lack of execution for this loss. Tina added that the team has to learn how to close out teams especially if they have aspirations of winning a championship.

“We didn’t execute down the stretch…” – Coach Liambeer.

The Liberty’s next game is Tuesday May 24th as they host the Atlanta Dream at MSG.

Thank You for reading

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